ERCB on hot seat at synergy group’s open house by John Gleeson, Mountain View Gazette, June 21, 2011
A cancelled speaker and some unanswered questions put the Energy Resources Conservation Board on the hot seat at a synergy group open house last week.
“This is a bad day for the ERCB,” Darin Barter, an ERCB communications officer, frankly told the crowd of about 60 people at the Central Mountainview Action Group open house, held last Tuesday in the council chamber at the county building.
With the ERCB’s scheduled speaker on pipelines unable to attend because he was called into the field, a handful of vocal farmers expressed frustration that their questions and concerns could not be addressed. These included questions about the “area of control” versus pipeline right of way (and concerns over how much land the farmer is compensated for), complaints that sour gas wells aren’t properly marked, and assertions that the ERCB does not know the locations of many pipelines in the province. The lack of answers and agenda changes prompted one farmer to exclaim: “This is false advertising.”
CMAG facilitator Krista Waters assured the audience that the issues raised on pipelines would be brought up at a future meeting and the ERCB’s Barter also offered to get back to producers with the information they requested. Even on the issue of wellhead safety, which ERCB field inspector Steve Lutz outlined in his presentation, members of the audience challenged his points. Lutz said there had been three wellhead hits reported to the Red Deer Field Centre last year and two so far this year. “So it is a growing problem,” he said. But with gas companies having right of entry, Glenn R. Norman argued, the liability for an accident should fall on them rather than the farmer, who might not have been made aware of the infrastructure. Lutz said the best solution was communication between all parties. “But you’re the regulator,” said Norman, a Red Deer County resident who also owns land in MVC. “It’s time to regulate.” [Emphasis added]